Click here to close now.


Mobile IoT Authors: Anders Wallgren, Steve Watts, Kevin Benedict, Liz McMillan, Dana Gardner

News Feed Item

Storm Response and Organized Chaos: How Can Utilities Prepare and Plan for the Unpredictable?

NEW YORK, November 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

After the US east coast suffered through the worst storm in history, storm response is on everyone's mind. So how can utilities prepare and plan for the unpredictable? According to Jeff Lewis, expert in electric utility reliability at PA Consulting Group and ReliabilityOne[TM]program director, successful storm response is managed through "a combination of people, organization, process and technology."

How did the utilities do after Hurricane Sandy?

"According to our analysis of Hurricane Sandy, 5 of 10 utilities across the Tri-State area restored power to over 90% of their customers within seven days, whereas after Hurricane Irene all 10 utilities had restored at least 90% of customers within a week. This demonstrates the tremendous power and impact of Superstorm Sandy, which affected approximately seven million customers in the Tri-State area, compared to Irene which affected nearly four million," said Mr. Lewis.

Given the duration of this major event, Mr. Lewis added, "Customers, regulators and public officials are focused on the estimated time to restoration (ETR), which is when a customer can expect to have power. This is the single most important piece of information a utility can provide under these circumstances. For Hurricane Sandy, we observed eight out of 10 utilities achieved their respective system-wide ETR. Most utilities waited until three days after the storm before issuing an ETR so they could assess the damage.  Still, many utilities were criticized for not providing accurate ETRs at the local level. With temperatures dipping below freezing, customers want to know exactly when their power will be restored". The pressure on utilities reached a climax when New York's Governor Cuomo threatened to revoke the licenses of those utilities that failed to deliver.

For utilities, being strategic in the preparation and planning for major storms improves restoration times, minimizes risks to public safety, and enhances public perception of the utility, as the extreme weather impacts from Hurricanes Sandy and Irene over the past two years have shown.

Mr. Lewis, who has completed more than 100 reviews of electric reliability systems and processes that include emergency response plans for major events, noted that regulators are responding in an unprecedented manner, requiring utilities to improve all aspects of their restoration practices including: readiness, communications and outage reporting, and restoration.  

"A combination of people, organization, process and technology"

A robust pre-storm preparation will lay the foundation for a successful response to a major event.  

According to Mr. Lewis, this preparation should focus on "people, organization, process and technology":

  • People involves providing sufficient staffing coverage to meet the challenges, while ensuring workers are appropriately trained for safety and effectiveness
  • Organization involves the appropriate mix of centralized communications and decentralized restoration, whereby the utility mobilizes multiple storm response centers across its affected service region, with adequate backups and redundancies across all levels to deal with the unexpected
  • Process involves the effective and efficient performance of the entire operation including information flows and communications, logistic (e.g., accommodations and materials), damage assessment, packaging and prioritization of work, crew complement and dispatch, safety, and coordination of mutual aid.  
  • Technology involves the systems, tools, and equipment that facilitate the efficient restoration of customers and the effective communication of accurate information to all stakeholders.

People and Organization

When Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey, Governor Christie urged utilities to make more progress and "throw out their playbooks," fast tracking discussions with FEMA to coordinate additional resources to restore power. As a result, crews from as far away as CA were airlifted by the military to help with restoration.  Utilities mobilized employees and contractors and secured approximately 25,000 linemen. However, many of these resources came days after the storm, often because nearby states were holding their own crews in case they were impacted worse than anticipated. With a storm of this magnitude, each utility and State is scrambling for as many resources as they can contract.  Effective utilities bring in both union and non-union labor and utilize non electric employees within the company to serve as damage assessors or live wire down guards. Some companies have also effectively enlisted the support of retirees who know the system and can make excellent damage assessors or even guides for foreign crews.  

The organizational structure supporting the storm response is another critical factor in a successful response.  Effective organizations do not come from paper charts; they are built through years of education, experience, and practice in the form of mock storm drills. The organization should facilitate the entire functioning of the operation, but communications and restoration are paramount.  

The organization must facilitate the timely and accurate flow of information.  Customers and public officials want to know when crews are scheduled to be working in their towns and most importantly, they demand to know when power will be restored. Centralized control and dissemination of this information ensures a consistent message and helps to manage expectations.

The restoration process at many utilities is decentralized during a major storm event so local managers, closest to the damage, can effectively utilize and allocate their resources.  However, too much decentralization runs the risk of a poor allocation of resources resulting from the failure to see the bigger picture which is the entire service territory.  There is a wide range of approaches to this question in the industry and many different models can work; the effective organizations strike the right balance and develop a workforce that understand their roles and are confident in their abilities.

Process and technology

With many customers experiencing power outages for over a week in the aftermath of Sandy and Irene, with an estimate of over seven million customers without power in the Tri-State region, the response by some utilities has drawn the wrath of regulators and politicians.

Mr. Lewis said that a key challenge for accurately issuing ETRs in the aftermath of Sandy has been the utilities' ability to accurately assess, process, analyze and communicate levels of damage caused by the storm. In some areas the effort has required the utility to rebuild entire sections of their electric distribution system. By focusing on a combination of process and technology, utilities can greatly improve this stage of storm response in terms of both a) communication to customers and b) response and restoration:

  • Establish ETR baselines using averages from previous storms and robust analysis of the available resources and estimates of the type and scope of the work to be completed  
  • Leverage mobile technology to report damage in real-time to utility control centers via video-link or picture messaging. Many utilities across the nation are now integrating sophisticated Geospatial Information Systems (GIS), Outage Management Systems (OMS), and mobile technology deployed in the field to greatly improve their ETRs during storms.
  • Optimize websites, mobile platforms and social media to include information for customers on important storm preparations and how it will affect them.

By adopting a rigorous storm response plan that incorporates people, organization, process and technology, utilities will be in the best position to restore customers' power quickly, while simultaneously battling the elements, repairing/replacing damaged infrastructure, recruiting support internally and from utilities across the nation, as well as communicating effectively with their customers, the media, local authorities and regulators.

About PA Consulting Group

PA Consulting Group is a firm of more than 2,000 people, specializing in management and IT consulting, technology and innovation. Independent and employee-owned, we operate globally from offices across Europe and the Nordics, the United States, the Gulf and Asia Pacific.  We work with businesses and governments to anticipate, understand and meet the challenges they face. We have outstanding technology-development capability and a unique breadth of skills, from strategy to performance improvement, from HR to IT. Our expertise covers energy, financial services, life sciences and healthcare, government and public services, defense and security, transport and logistics, telecommunications, consumer goods and automotive. PA Consulting Group has partnered with energy clients for over 25 years to help them understand the challenges they face and define and implement an effective strategic response. PA Consulting Group has identified best practices that utilities should implement during successful storm response, leveraging client experience our benchmarking programs, and our ReliabilityOne™ and ServiceOne awards, which recognize utilities that have excelled in providing outstanding reliability and customer service.  For more information about PA Consulting Group, visit .

CONTACT: Irina Dayton
PA Consulting Group
[email protected]

SOURCE PA Consulting Group

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

@ThingsExpo Stories
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now all corporate assets – people, objects, and spaces – can share information about themselves and thei...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true change and transformation possible.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound effect on the world, and what should we expect to see over the next couple of years.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, wil...